Recent Firing of Washington, D.C., HIV/AIDS Administration Director Raises Discussion on Qualities of Successor
The firing last week of Washington, D.C., HIV/AIDS Administration Director Lydia Watts has raised questions about who will replace her, as well as "a discussion of the kinds of qualities someone would need to handle the complicated mix of politics, public health know-how, managerial acumen and compassion for infected citizens that the position demands," the Washington Post reports (Labbe, Washington Post, 8/21). Department of Health Director Gregg Pane fired Watts amid questions about how the district's HIV/AIDS Administration has handled federal funds. The administration in June was criticized in an audit by the district's inspector general for inadequately overseeing organizations that deliver services to HIV-positive residents. In addition, a report released earlier this month by the DC Appleseed Center found that the city's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been inadequate and poorly coordinated. The report said, among other things, that city officials were not systematically collecting and analyzing data about the epidemic and not properly coordinating and supervising the organizations that provide services for people living with HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/17). Adam Tenner, executive director of Metro TeenAIDS, said the position should go to a leader who "can create a real sense of collaboration with the community." HIV-positive district resident Danielle Pleasant said the position needs someone who can handle the agency's bureaucracy and be a public face for people living with the disease. Channing Wickham, executive director of the Washington AIDS Partnership, said the position should be seen "as a real opportunity" (Washington Post, 8/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.